Divorce Vs. Legal Separation In Utah: What’S The Difference?

Did you know that you can get “a temporary divorce”… without actually filing a Petition for Divorce? You probably did, but the process of filing for temporary separation in Utah has probably left you with more questions than answers.

That is because Utah has its own legal process to separate from your spouse without actually divorcing. This process is called legal separation.

We invited our Salt Lake City family law attorney from Emy A. Cordano, Attorney at Law to explain how two lawfully married spouses can file for a temporary separation order in Utah and how it is different from filing for a divorce.

How to file for a legal separation in Utah?

In order to file an action for a temporary separation order, petitioners (legally married spouses) are required to file a Petition for Temporary Separation and a Motion for Temporary Orders. But it is not so simple, say our best family law attorneys in Utah.

In order to file a Petition for Temporary Separation, you and your spouse must be lawfully married and both have been residents of Utah for at least 90 days prior to the date of filing the petition.

“How long do temporary separation orders last?” you may be wondering. Glad you have asked! In Utah, temporary separation orders are valid for 12 months (one year) from the date of the hearing, or until one of the spouses chooses to file for a divorce, or until the case is dismissed and the spouses get back together.

What are the rights and duties of legally separated spouses?

But what does it mean to be legally separated in Utah? According to the state’s family law, the spouses who pursue a legal separation live separately but remain lawfully married spouses.

“Many tend to think that once lawfully married spouses file for a legal separation, all of their rights and duties will be abolished,” says our experienced family law attorney in Salt Lake City. “But that is not entirely true, as Utah sets forth many rights and duties for legally separated spouses. These rights and duties cover such matters as child custody and child support, alimony, division of property, debt, and others.” This area of family law is called separate maintenance.

Are you eligible to pursue a legal separation?

Not all married couples are equally eligible to file for a legal separation in Salt Lake City, Draper, and elsewhere in Utah. That is because your petition must meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • Your spouse, who provides financial support, neglects or refuses to properly provide for the family and/or maintain you as his/her spouse;
  • Your spouse has abandoned you without good and legitimate cause;
  • Your spouse, through no fault of his or hers, chooses to live separately and apart from you.

What happens after a legal separation?

While it is pretty clear what happens after a divorce, it is not nearly as clear what happens after a legal separation. Our Salt Lake City family law attorney from Emy A Cordano, Attorney At Law explains that in the action for separate maintenance, the court may order the following:

  • Determine with which of the parents the children will remain for the duration of the legal separation order;
  • Determine which of the spouses will provide for the care, custody, and maintenance of their children;
  • Outline how and when alimony payments and child support payments will be made;
  • Determine which of the spouses is responsible for the payment of joint debt, and obligations accumulate throughout their marriage.
  • Determine which of the spouses will possess the property and other assets.

Each case is unique, which means the terms and conditions of your legal separation decree may differ from others. Consult with our skilled family law attorneys in Utah to find out more today. Contact the Emy A. Cordano, Attorney at Law for a legal consultation. Give us a call at (801) 901-8159 or complete this contact form.

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